Rory McIlroy praised for ‘classy’ response to rules incident involving reporter

Rory McIlroy at the 2020 PGA.

Golf is a game of honor, one that prides itself on the players’ ability to self-police. Not every player upholds those values, but on Friday during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy proved he’s a cut above the rest.

Here’s what happened: After hitting his ball in the right rough on the par-3 3rd hole, the camera crew following Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and McIlroy’s feature group advanced up the hole. Along the way, an on-course ESPN reporter accidentally stepped on Rory’s ball.

Some players would consider this great news. The USGA’s most recent rule changes means the player has a free pass under rule 7.4 to replace their ball based on an “estimate” of where it was initially.

It’s an important rule for your own sake when you’re out on the course…

New Rule: Under Rule 7.4, if a player accidentally moves his or her ball while searching for it:

  • The player gets no penalty for causing it to move, and
  • The ball is always replaced; if the exact spot is not known, the player will replace the ball on the estimated original spot (including on, under or against any attached natural or man-made objects which the ball had been at rest under or against).

A rules official came over and pointed to an area where Rory could put his ball. So he did, except something wasn’t quite right. He thought the lie was too good, and not where he thought the ball would’ve ended up.

“I don’t think it was as visible as that,” he said.

It wouldn’t have been fair to play his ball from a lie that good, so he asked for a worse lie — which he got.

He played his shot — it was a tough one — and it resulted in a bogey. Golf fans praised Rory’s classy actions and he instantly rose even higher in their estimations.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is an English-American who oversees the brand’s service journalism content across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms. An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. Following graduation, he spent two years as a digital editor at Golf Digest before spending three years as a Senior Editor at USA Today.